Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean

Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

Argentina - Museo de Arte Religioso Juan de Tejeda (Juan de Tejeda Religious Art Museum)

The building as such is the result of the black and Indian labour force. It is an example of the intangible dimensions of the monastery, since it evidences the sense of religious communities as production centres through the use of enslaved men and women to carry out different tasks.

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  • In hall 7 of the museum we may find the work commissioned to José Francisco Javier del Santísimo Sacramento, a pardo born on 1749, of slave parents property of the monastery of the Teresian nuns. Luis Roberto Altamira points out that Sacramento had been taught the craft by Brother Antonio Negle, who also taught him to mix the colours.

It is also known that Sacramento had his own workshop when he was 19 years old and that in 1775 was called to produce, with his knowledge of artistic painting, a report to the King on the status of the works of the cathedral, responsibility of the bishop and the governor. Apparently, Sacramento was not a consummate painter, but he limited himself to copy old oil paintings produced in other regions of the Americas and prints from Europe. Anyway, five paintings kept in the monastery of the Independencia Street are attributed to him: a painting of the Divine Face, two paintings of the nuns Teresa de Jesús and Catalina de Cristo, and the effigies of the lay sisters Teresa Luisa de San Angelo and Ana de Jesus. The latter is no other than Maria Magdalena de Tejeda y Guzman, daughter of Don Juan Tejeda. The specialists believe that Sacramento copied the figures of the nuns and their immediate surroundings from paintings that arrived from Alto Peru (currently Bolivia) and even from Cusco, to which he conferred specific facial features. Both his parents as Sacramento himself, until their manumission, had been the slaves of the nun Maria del Sacramento, from which the painter took his last name, a lady that in such century was no other than Doña Maria Magdalena de la Vega, widow of General Pablo Guzman, and mother-in-law of Don Juan of Tejeda, the original owner of the property where the museum is lodged. It is assumed that Francisco Javier del Sacramento obtained his condition of "pardo libre" (free person of Indian and black ancestry) before 1786, according to the hypothesis of Jesuit priest Pedro Grenón. In the census of 1813, when he was already 64 years old, Sacramento appears as painter by occupation, with wife and daughters dressmakers and sons and sons-in-law who were tailors, in addition to a grandson registered as a musician. In that year of 1813, Francisco paints the national Argentinean coat of arms on the façade of the town hall at the request of this corporation and according to the provisions of the historic Assembly, the same that had decreed the free womb law for all those born of a slave mother from that moment on.  Full freedom for the black slaves would only be acknowledged by the constitution of 1853, forty years later, and in the whole extension of the present-day Argentinean territory as of 1862, when Mitre adhered with reservations to the contents of the Magna Carta. Francisco Javier del Sacramento writes his will on 1809 and it is speculated that his remains, like those of a predeceased son, were buried at the very monastery of the Barefooted Carmelites, shrouded with the habit of La Virgen del Carmen (Lady of Mount Carmel).[1].

  • Above the eastern gallery east of the museum´s courtyard we may find crosses in wrought iron, 19th century, of the cemetery of Tegua, a locality of the provincial south. They were donated in 1986 by painter Egidio Cerrito. They belonged to his private collection.

In their composition we may observe a design of African influence, an "adinkra" symbol used by the cultures of West Africa and known as "sankofa". The "adinkra" symbols represent abstract and complex concepts. Each symbol has a name, its own meaning and a proverb. These meanings often reflect religious beliefs, values, philosophical thoughts and the historic past.

  • "Sankofa" means "come back and take it". The importance of remembering the past and learning from it. It is represented by means of an almost circular bird. It urges to look at the past to create a future and to not forget.
  • A piece of terra-cotta is exhibited on hall 8 of the museum. It is a vessel with handles of African manufacture (according to archaeologist Alfonso Uribe, it is a bedpan): A vessel in the shape of a slightly truncated cone with a slightly outward mouth. It has two semicircular handles towards the middle of the body, on the face outside an irregular but smooth surface. It is light brown with dark and black spots. 17th century. Made in Cordoba. Domestic use. It belongs to the San Jose Monastery of Barefooted Carmelites.
  • Francisco Javier del Sacramento stood out among the painters, of African descent; he was born in Cordoba in 1749. Two of his works are exhibited at the Juan de Tejeda Religious Art Museum and are portraits of the lay sisters Teresa Luisa de San Angelo and Ana Maria de la Madre de Dios. It is probable that both he and one of his sons are buried in the Santa Teresa Church of the Monastery of Barefooted Carmelites of San Jose since he requested it specifically on his will.

In hall 7 of the museum we may find a wooden frame surrounding a window with doors made by Francisco Javier del Sacramento. This "small cabinet" called "taca", term of Arab Hispanic origin (táq) meaning window, is a two-part in-built piece of furniture. The lower part is stretched horizontally and has a polychrome-wooden frame imitating marble. There are another two doors, with iron lock, partially gilded. On the outside of the above mentioned doors, there are two novices with baby Jesus, in front of a window from which a tree is seen. Inside the doors there are two portraits of Carmelite nuns. The superior part has the shape of a classical porch, flanked by two mouldings with golden volutes. In the tympanum, in dark background, one may read "Year of 1768". The set frames a niche with a masonry stand.

Furthermore, one can read, in the stand of the upper piece "JPH FRANco XAVIER DEL S. SACRA". In the lower piece, on the external side "H. TERESA LUISA DE S. ANGELO" and "ANA MARÍA DE LA M. DE D.". On the inner side to the left and right respectively one can read "MNA. DE IESU" and to the right "B. CATHARINA DE XPO." And in the upper side on a white ribbon cartouche, painted "DOCUISTI ME DOMINE A INVENTUTE MEA".

Currently the doors are fixed to the wall and therefore we can only see to the left the copy made by Francisco Javier del Sacramento of a portrait of the 17th century (original by Juan Bautista Daniel) representing the nun Ana Maria de la Madre de Dios, that is to say Ana Maria Guzman, the widow of Juan de Tejeda. The original portrait would have arrived in bad condition around the mid 18th century so that they would have commissioned a copy to the Afro descendent artist. It is a painting on wood.

To the right we may observe the portrait of Sister Teresa de Jesus (Maria Magdalena Tejeda according to L.R. Altamira); it is an oil painting on cloth. Luis Roberto Altamira attributes it to Francisco Javier del Sacramento, while Schenone attributes it to Danish painter Juan Bautista Daniel because of the difference regarding the painting on the wood board by Francisco del Sacramento.


[1]  IGHINA, Carlos A. De pintores pardos y morenos. In sección Opinión.Comercio y Justicia Daily.

Published on 22 July 2015. Córdoba. Argentina. Available in pardos-y- morenos/   


Accessibility: All the public transportation lines of the city have stops no more than 3 blocks away from the museum.
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Other data of interest


Historical name

Monasterio San José de Carmelitas Descalzas (San Jose Monastery of the Barefoot Carmelites)

Founding Date

Monastery: 1628 May 7. Museum: 1970 December 8


Independencia No. 122, Centro, Córdoba, Povincia de Córdoba , PC: X5000IUD .

Phone numbers

+54 0351 4281540

Links to social networks!/-visita-virtual/





Responsible entity

Estado Municipal de Córdoba y Arzobispado de Córdoba

Web link




Others Local monument National monument


Burial place Workplace Settlement

Access level


Current Use


Original use

Enclosed monastery

Property kind


Heritage documents under its protection

The Juan de Tejeda Religious Art Museum lodges a collection of approximately 600 volumes of primary and secondary sources and also an important number of documents from various historical periods. At present the task of uploading, registering and systematization of documents is being performed to facilitate access by researchers and specialists. The state of conservation of these documents in general is good.

A policy of access to the sources has been defined with the new management of the museum; taking into account that heritage becomes richer when consulted by the researchers. It is indispensable to facilitate access to the assets by the various publics, as well as the consults of specialists and researchers, as part of the enrichment process of knowledge and discourses. 

Expressions of intangible heritage associated

  • The products of the monastery were sold at the ancient gateway of the monastery (2nd hall of the museum) apart from receiving the donations from the people and purchases made by the religious community. The main productions of the Monastery were the manufactured textiles made by the nuns and the terra-cotta pottery made by the monastery´s slaves.
  • The adobe pottery was originally sold at the present courtyard of the museum (the oldest cloister of the monastery). Once the slaves had made the pots, these were baked in various ovens that existed in this place[1].

[1] In relation to this production and other doings, we can offer the following information: Various bishops visited the San Jose monastery in the course of the centuries and drafted very dissimilar reports on its internal dynamics. The report of bishop José Antonio Gutiérrez de Zevallos in 1733, however, unleashed a war between the Carmelite community and the prelate, and divided the society in two parties. Gutiérrez de Zevallos had been appointed inquisitor in Cartagena de Indias and he was the twelfth bishop of the diocese of the Tucumán in 1730. He arrived in Cordoba three years after ready to establish order and discipline. Having heard from his predecessor, bishop Juan de Sarricolea, about certain irregularities at the convent, his first clash with the Barefooted Carmelites was in 1733, accusing them to of disregarding the cloister by having a large number of secular black and pardo servants who went in and out at their own will; And of selling inside the monastery pots, clay water jugs and earthen jugs that they produced in some ovens installed at the court. The confirmation of such anomalies arrived by the hand of the rector of the Colegio Máximo, the Jesuit Miguel López, confessor of the Carmelites.

Accompanied by six men, between priests and public officers, the Bishop went over to the monastery on December 4, 1733 and interviewed six nuns under oath under pain of excommunication. He ascertained that there were 40 slaves, between men and women, and those 34 women, between adults and minors, shared the enclosure with the nuns, of whom 13 were Spanish and the rest, free and slaves. Moreover, some of the free women were married and at dusk they went back to sleep with their husbands and the unmarried slaves went out in the daytime and came back to sleep in the convent. The only ones that never left the cloister were the 13 white women. The prelate also found out that some nuns had their own private business with the manufacturing of pottery. They had ovens where the maids and the slaves made pots, jugs and large earthenware jars, in many cases of big dimensions, so that it was impossible to get them through the turnstile and this resulted in the assiduous opening of the door, in addition to the constant entrance of raw materials, in this case firewood and clay.

The bishop analyzed testimonies and a document with 23 articles called "Ordenaciones y reglamentos" that sought to stop the abuses committed. This document determined that anyone alien to the monastery should leave except for the necessary slaves to help the diseased persons and to continue with the business of the pots, which he transferred to the settlement (of black slaves) and turned it into a business for communal benefit and not for the particular benefit of certain nuns, with which it would generate an income to help the feeble finances of the monastery. In addition he ordered to sell the rest of slaves (around the mid 18th century the Monastery granted freedom to an important number of slaves).


  • 1941-11-28
  • 1977